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Normally when a headline asks a question, the answer is a simple and resounding “no.”

“Is this common berry a cure for aging?”  “Is Elvis alive and living in Des Moines under the name ‘Tybalt Tedeschi’?”  “Can your cat hear your thoughts?”  No, no, and … probably no.  (The Internet has a name for this, of course: Betteridge’s Law of Headlines.)

But I’m going to push for an exception for a recent article at GreenTechMedia, where the headline asks “Can Home Energy Efficiency Gain Traction?”

At JouleBug we certainly believe that home energy efficiency can “gain traction” — that is, make a real difference in the energy consumption of individual households and the nation as a whole.  The key is how you present people with information about sustainable actions they can perform to increase efficiency and reduce waste.

We think that we’ve reached “peak environmentalism.”  (Think “peak oil.”)  The percentage of our population that will be attracted and persuaded by traditional environmental messages has hit its maximum.  To get more people interested in energy efficiency and conservation — which has a myriad of benefits, not just “environmental” ones — we have to use different approaches.

We’re not alone in this belief, of course.  Many organizations have figured out that “save money!” is a persuasive message for a lot of people who don’t consider themselves environmentalists.  But the delivery method matters, too.  We have to use tools for reaching people where they are, and for a lot of people, where they are is nose-down in their smartphones and tablets.

That combination of message and medium (and maybe that’s redundant) is why JouleBug is the next generation of sustainability outreach.  We don’t require that users believe anything in particular.  We talk about sustainability in ways that aren’t about drudgery, guilt, or sacrifice — not about giving something up, but about getting something.  JouleBug acts and feels like a game.  We work with communities to use the app to tell people about local priorities and programs (like efficiency rebates) and to run contests with real-world prizes.  It’s not just about giving people information.  JouleBug turns that information into real-world action.

That’s how we spread the word about home energy efficiency (along with a ton of other sustainability areas), helping it “gain traction” and make a real difference in our energy bills.